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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Movement: The Larger Purpose

The Larger Purpose of the 
Occupy Wall Street Movement
A Personal View
by Fred Krueger
Last weekend I participated in the local Occupy Santa Rosa event. The turnout was impressive. In a city of 150,000 people, at least 3,000 local citizens filled the grassy area in front of City Hall and them marched to City Center before returning to City Hall. Protester signs addressed upwards of a hundred issues, including unjust home foreclosures; corporate greed over human need; the growing numbers of hungry people; the rising levels of poverty; the export of manufacturing jobs to Asia; skyrocketing college tuition; threats to the post office; government misinformation about Iraq; the malfeasance of big banks; growing inequalities in wealth; duplicity in the global financial system; corporate disinformation about global climate change; the XL Keystone pipeline from Canada; unregulated campaign contributions; the polarization of government,  etc., etc.

On the surface, it might seem true that there is no single unifying message. However it is my belief that with examination of these issues, there is an over-arching, connecting and unifying issue. As a people, we are losing an ability to fulfill the assumptions upon which the United States was founded. The Constitution, in its preamble, declares, “We the People... in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
That’s the verbatim quote. What is happening is that the world in which the Constitution was written is changing. In particular the rise of the multinational corporation is changing the dynamics of democratic government. By law, ever since the Southern Pacific Railroad v County of Santa Clara court decision in 1888, corporations are considered legal persons under the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection clause. Of course they are not real people. They have no heart, no soul, no death, and no capability of genuine feelings or spiritual perception. Because they don't die, they just keep growing, and growing, and sometimes devouring other corporations. Their values are merely marketplace values, devoid of any higher virtue. Their only sense of  responsibility is a fiduciary duty to turn a profit for shareholders. Good people may work for corporations, but their values become subsumed into the purpose and values of the corporation.
The issue for the Occupy Movement is therefore two-fold. First, we have to preserve the intent of a Constitution for real people, or we will lose our republican form of democratic government. This is the first issue. We are losing our country and its ability to function as it was intended. And we will not stand for it. The Occupy Wall Street movement is therefore a thoughtful response by citizens concerned about our form of government.
Second, we have to rein in the corporations because they have no innate capacity to respond to the real problems of our nation. This is an act of patriotism. Under all of the issues listed on protesters' signs, or at least ninety percent of them, we are dealing with the consequences of soulless corporations inserting their agenda into the life of the real people of America. Even in Washington there is a sarcastic saying that we have “the best Congress that money can buy.” The problem is that this is true. Corporate money and its lack of moral discernment is corrupting our country, our Congress, national and regional decision making, and most significantly the ability of the voice of the people to find popular expression as the Founding Fathers originally intended. The only real solution, the patriotic solution, if you will, is to rein in the ability of corporations to corrupt and distort our country and its electoral processes.
What is at issue then is that the real people have to reassert their authority and promote common sense legislation to restrict the ability of these paper entities to enter into political advocacy. Corporations are not real people, and they should not be accorded the rights of real people. The evidence of their malfeasance is in their actions. Look at all of the protest signs. Look too at the problems of our country. Those issues in aggregate represent the pernicious influence of corporations upon American public life. No other action will do as much good to preserve stability in our nation and the ability of citizens to live a healthy and prosperous life as the reining in of corporate power. This is the only way that we can preserve our Constitution. This is the larger unifying purpose of the Occupy Movement.

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